The glass ceiling is a well-known concept – particularly to those who have major career aspirations. There is widespread consensus that this ceiling needs to be broken.
As an economic term, it refers to an unseen barrier that prevents minorities and women from progressing up the corporate ladder, whether they have the right skills or not. There is no denying that the top positions in the world are still dominated by men – and generally white men in Western societies.
There are myriad reasons why this situation has come about, but despite the combination of social factors that have led to this phenomenon, more needs to be done to remedy it. Depending on which source you speak to, the term was first coined in the late 1970s or early 1980s, yet 30 years later the problem remains.
Research published each year on women’s earnings and the number of top positions they occupy on company boards shows that the situation is improving – although there is some debate about how to speed up this process.
Franchising – breaking the glass ceiling
On an individual level, one option for women keen to break the glass ceiling and put themselves in the driving seat in their career is to look into taking on a franchise. Rather than sticking with an employer for years in the hope of gradually getting promoted into a senior position, opting for a franchise is one method of taking control of your own destiny.
When a franchisor looks at candidates applying to run one of its outlets, it will look at whether that person has the skill to make a success of the franchise and earn the franchisor more money. For ambitious women the opportunity to be in charge of their own company could be an attractive prospect.
Figures from the International Franchising Association showed that in 2007, 20.5 per cent of franchises were being run by women, while 24.4 per cent had joint male-female ownership. Meanwhile, British Franchising Association statistics indicate that an increasing number of newer franchises were being taken on by women. In 2006, 16 per cent of newer franchisees were female, while in 2011 this had jumped to 38 per cent.
Franchise – guided autonomy
A major part of what makes franchises successful is the support network that is in place when people take them on; the company handbook, the pooled marketing resources and the ability to speak to other franchisees or franchisor HQ at times of difficulty – these are just some of the ways in which you are helped to succeed.
However, while there is this type of guidance available for those that need it, it is important to know that there is also a great deal of autonomy within the framework of a franchised company. This means women have the chance to be the boss and let their ideas become a reality – it is not simply a case of joining the dots.
Choosing the right franchise
One of the most important parts of being a successful franchisee is choosing the right franchise, since it needs to fit with what you want from your career, as well as complement your experience and skill. Doing plenty of research about an industry and the company in particular (always speak to existing franchisees) should give you a good idea of what it will be like to run your own business.
When you are researching a franchise, make sure you look into the specifics that will have a direct impact on your personal life, such as the profit structure, projected number of hours worked each week, flexibility and how much money you will need to invest yourself. All of this research needs to be done alongside a commercial analysis – a franchise should be the right decision for you as a person as well as a business woman.